Accepting an invite, I attended an event named “Do the French Give the Best O.R.G.S.M?”, sponsored by the NYC Festival Sud de France at divine bar, last week. Meant to compare the G.S.M‘s (blends of Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre) of Southern France with those of the “Rest of the World,” it was an event without contest. In fact, I might even suggest that some pretty poor representations were chosen to represent the rest of the world on purpose, to emphasize a point, because I personally found more than a few of the ‘other’ options undrinkable.
As a part of divine bar‘s “Vino-Versity”, the event was set up as a walk-around with three tables, a list of the wines without vintages, hors d’oeuvres, and a one page fact sheet on the region. And while Southern France is home to such Appellations Contrôleés as Bandol, Provence, Minervois,and Fitou, the wines of Table B were listed as from Languedoc (and not Roussillon), and Table C represented Provence, Cotes du Rhone, Languedoc, and Crozes Hermitage. Of the 24 total wines, three were G.S.M.s, a few single varietals, and a host of other blends.
Table B offered a selection of eight wines imported by Willette Wines, all of which on some level intrigued me. The Chateau St. Jean de la Gineste “Vieilles Vignes” is from Corbieres in Languedoc; and is a blend of 80% 110-year-old Carignan vines, and 20% Grenache. With aromas of perfumed wood (but not quite pachouli), integrated tannins, a silky texture, and a spicy finish, it’s an excellent everyday wine at $14.
Also noteworthy, is Domaine des Grecaux Monteyroux “Terra Solis”, a blend of 85% Grenache and 15% Carignan. The fruit on the nose is most unusual–passionfruit without the citrus. But, it’s earthy and chalky, with soft green herbs, like rosemary, and spice on the finish.
Table C began with Domaine Felines Jourdan Picpoul de Pinet, Languedoc, picpoul blanc being a white varietal with mouth-tearing acidity, from the Cru Picpoul de Pinet, in Languedoc. Domaine Jourdan has a chalky nose with mineral infused lime pith, puckering acidity, and a clean, dry finish. Yum! It’s unfortunate that many of the attendees, who were there for the reds, were unwilling to taste it!
My favorite red here was Hecht & Bannier Faugeres, a blend of 70% Syrah and 30% Mourvedre. At $35, it’s smokey, with notes of leather, earth, tobacco, dark fruit, and celery root. Spiced mid-palate, I also detected notes of sunchoke, which I found delightful. And as one would expect, it’s tannic on the finish.
The “Rest of the World”, or Table A, didn’t tempt me. There was a Syrah from Sicily that smelled, to me, like wood in a paper factory. And so I took my lesson for the evening, which I already knew, that most wines of the same blend don’t stand a chance when up against the South of France.